Sunday, October 30, 2011

Sunset Loop

I had a great sunset run this evening on a new route.

Location:  Quarry Lake at Greenspring is a small residential and commercial site in Baltimore County, just east of Pikesville.  I’ve yet to identify if the quarry was created specifically for this community, or if the community was a result of beatifying the quarry. Regardless, the area has been built up into several condo buildings, single family homes, and a commercial area known as The Shops at Quarry Lake. Several nice restaurants and shops are there including California Tortilla (a favorite of mine), Starbucks, and The Fresh Market, among about 25 others.  Surrounding the lake is a nice paved pathway approximately 1.75 miles.  There is also a smaller pathway with seating along the overlook.

Route:  This afternoon, we stopped by California Tortilla and I noticed a few runners and walkers out.  Even though we frequent the shops on occasion, I’d never really though of it as a place to run, until today.  I surveyed the area and it looked like the pathway went completely around the lake.  The path contains a fairly significant incline/decline.  It starts low, then circles around an overlook and back.  Perfect for training for a long steady incline.  I’ve never seen a large amount of people on the pathway, so it’s not a fight like some of the other locations.  The scenery is beautiful.  Vegetation growth is filling in nicely and there were ducks and geese on the water. 

The Experience:  I didn’t make it back for my run until the evening.  I’d hoped I could get two laps in, but I could only get one in before dark.  I ran counter-clockwise, facing into the setting sun, and heading up hill.  I was going for a 2:1 run/walk.  Temperatures were cold, but not horrid, nice and crisp air.  When I reached the overlook, I took quite a few pictures.  The view was awesome.  I just missed the setting suns rays over the view, but it was still a sight to see. 

I was running with a fairly fast pace, especially along the backside with the long gradual downhill. This was only my second run in the GT-2160s and they felt much better this run.  No shin pain to be noticed.  I did end up with a few blisters along the inside heel.  The insert sits slightly higher than my old shoes causing rubbing further up the ankle.  Not a problem, just have to toughen up the skin right there.

Now for the photos. As before, I’ve uploaded all the photos to my Smugmug account, and have all of todays photos at Lake Quarry 10-30-11.  Here are a few highlights:

Saturday, October 29, 2011

The Shoe Wars Saga Continues.

In a galaxy far, far away….

It is a period of civil war.  Rebel spaceships, striking from a….. WAIT that’s not right!

A few months ago I mentioned that the owner of my local fleet feet said I was in wrong fitting shoes.  Since then, I’ve had my form checked out a couple of times, from various stores.  Each one seemed to say something different.  One said I’m supinating, another I over-pronate.  One suggested a neutral shoe (which I was currently in), another said I needed support. 

I didn’t post it here, but I decided to try a third store, explain the situation, and see what they had to say.  This store was patient, they heard both stores suggestions, and walked me through an extensive analysis.  The results:   I tend to supinate while walking, but once I start running, I start pronating, and the faster I go, the more I over-pronate.  Their recommendation, a support shoe.  I tried several and made a mental note of the ones I liked.  Being that I’m  a cheap bastard bargain hunter, I didn’t buy one at that time.  I also was finishing my half marathon training and did not want to change shoes right before a race.  So I waited.  It’s worth mentioning that my current pair had gotten me through all my running since Christmas of last year, including marathon training, the marathon, and everything since, without any complaints (minus the orthotic incident).

Last week I decided to order the model that seemed to be the best according to the third shoe store, ASICS GT-2160.  I got them through Runners Warehouse using the remaining gift card money I had and spent a whopping $35 total. The shoes came in on Thursday and yesterday I got in a decent 2 mile run. They felt pretty good at first, but by one mile, I could feel some tension along the outer shin, about 3-4 inches above my ankles.  I’m hopeful that I just need to get used to wearing support shoes since I’ve been wearing neutrals for nearly two years.  Slow and steady with alternating between the two is my goal.  Are these going to be the “right” shoe for me?  No clue.  The more I’ve researched and dealt with the realm of running shoes, the more I’m learning that it’s not a simple matter of finding the right shoe for me, but it’s more about finding what works for the current situation.  And so, the saga continues….

Monday, October 24, 2011

Movie Review Monday

Welcome to a new topic here at the Runners Bug.  Movie reviews! I'll be sharing some running connections in movies and my input on them.  Sure I can do reviews for the typical "running movie", but that's just not me.  They may not be centered on running, but all will have some connection, no matter how small, to the sport we all love to hate, or hate to love!

Movie:  Yes Man
Year:  2008
Lead Actors:  Jim Carrey, Zooey Deschanel, Bradley Cooper, and John Michael Higgins
Synopsis:  Carl (Jim Carrey) is stuck in a rut, a very big rut.  He's "recently" divorced and becoming more and more a hermit.  A chance meeting with an old friend leads him to a seminar on saying yes, and he decides (or is hoodwinked into) agreeing to say "Yes" to everything.  He meets Allison (Zooey Deschanel) the same night and a long and twisted rebirth happens for Carl, with Allison in tow. 

Reasons I Like This Movie:  Although quite comical, the overall concept of opening one's self up to new possibilities by saying "yes" is intriguing.  How many missed opportunities have you had because you declined an offer, or otherwise said no?  If one was to actually adopt this philosophy, there is no telling what life may bring. We could all stand to bring a little more "yes" into our lives.

Running Connection:  The connection with running is pretty lose.  Allison leads a running photography club.  It's comprised of people that like to run and like to take photos.  She just put the two together.  The running photography scenes are quite funny, and although only a minor part of the movie, they illustrate the quirky nature that is Allison.

Since seeing the movie several years ago, I've always liked the concept.  Two things I enjoy doing thrust together in a swirling spiral like peanut butter and banana.  They might not traditionally go together, but can make for quite an interesting treat.... just ask Elvis!

I must say, I picked this movie because of my last post.  I already had a review of this movie in mind when I decided to take pictures throughout my last run at Centennial Park.  I imagined myself in Allison's group, although I did stop to frame shots and not just randomly click the shutter.  It was a fun experience, and I'll be continuing my Running Photography Club of one.  Who wants to join the club?

Check out "Yes Man" for an upbeat comedic movie with an interesting philosophical bent.  Even if your not a Jim Carrey fan (like Mrs. Runners Bug), I promise you'll take something away from it. 

Now expand that mind of yours and say YES!

Things To Watch Out For: 
A perfect fit for Third Eye Blind's Jumper song.
Good performance by Terrance Stamp.
Zooey Deschanel in her naturally zany self
Jim Carrey dressed as Harry Potter and Zooey Deschanel dressed as Hermione Granger
The Drunken Brawl


Monday, October 17, 2011

2012 Running Goals - Experiential Running

You know the type.  Runner's World Magazine dedicates one page per issue to a photo of someone running up a majestic mountain or along a deserted trail.  The runners always appear at peace, as if running were as effortless as breathing.  This is my favorite part of the magazine.  It's also my goal for 2012.  To run as many of these kinds of runs as I can. 

Since high school I've always considered myself a runner.  More often than not, I was a runner on sabbatical.  For the last two years I've integrated running into my daily life.  I spent a year just focused on making running a routine part of life. Then this year I ran distances I've never run before, completing both a marathon and a half marathon.  I've also moved past the dogma against run/walks and do both full running and run/walks.  Lately I've been giving a lot of thought to where I wanted to go from here.

A couple of months ago, I had a thought.  Why not run the "Rave Run"?  Why not do it often?  Why not make it my goal?  So here it is my "Race" plan for 2012 (which I'm starting a few months early). 

Goal One:  Increase my running frequency.  Pretty much this entire year I've focused on a three run week or less.  Typically Tuesday, Thursday, and Sunday.  I'm hoping to increase the amount to about 5-6 times a week, for at least a mile each run.

Goal Two:  In my last post, I mentioned I was going to stop documenting my times.  I've become obsessed, as many runners do, with the clock.  "I was a few seconds slower today than yesterday!  What happened?"  Unless I'm running a race, I don't plan to keep track of times.  Instead, I'm going to a more subjective form to evaluate my efforts.  More...experiential. I'll elaborate more on this in a future post, but for now. It's bye bye watch.

Goal Three:  Find unusual/historical/intellectual/personal locations to run and document each one as an event.  I want to choose locations and document my experience with them.  Why did I choose this location, how was the run, what did I experience, what were the pros/cons of it. Photos will be taken and shared on here. 

This might sound vague, so let me elaborate.  I live close to DC, yet I've never run the National Mall just to run it.  Both times I've run there were during races. I'd like to run the entire mall. Maybe stopping at a few of the memorials and experience them through my running self. 

Another example might be to follow in the footsteps of another. Experience what they experienced.  Not long ago, I watched Rocky for the first time in years.  Philly is only a few hours away.  I'm thinking of trying to retrace the famous montage that ends with Rocky running up the steps of a museum and throwing his hands in the air.  It might sound corny, but then again, what might you be thinking when you reach the top?  I'd like to find out for myself.

My work takes me on frequent (although not so lately) business trips throughout the Eastern United States. Each trip offers me a chance to run somewhere different.  I plan to find something unique about each location and experience it through a run. 

So that's it.  My 2012 Running Plan - Experiential Running.  I'll probably add in some races here and there too, most likely the Army Ten Miler.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

A Near Perfect Fall Run


This morning I headed over to Centennial Park for a relaxing 5 miler.  The run turned out to be near perfect.  The only hitch, I had some more knee pain towards the end.  I went out with only my hat, sunglasses, water bottle/holder, and my phone.  Without a watch I wasn’t able to really do intervals.  I simply ran when I wanted and walked when I wanted.  Trying fro around 2/1.  More often than not, I stopped for a picture instead of a walk. 

Location:  Centennial Park is a 325 acre regional Park in Howard County, MD, Just north of the planned community of Columbia.  The park is used for a variety of events from the free summer concert series “Sunset Serenades” to church services and sporting events.  The park consists of several play areas, picnic pavilions, an outdoor stage, several tennis and basketball courts, and a nearly 2.5 miles paved trail all surrounding a lake. 

Route:  I chose this route for many reasons.  It’s a favorite local sport for running.  The scenery is awesome with waterfowl, people watching, gorgeous lake views, several bridges, and a dike.  The trail is about 10 foot wide, paved, with a wide variety of elevations.  If you like short and steep hills, this place is for you.

The Experience:  The weather was perfect for a mid-morning fall run.  Temperatures were in the low 60’s with a slight breeze and sunny skies.  I snapped a before photo (sorry for the blurriness, I had it the setting on macro).  There were many people out and about on this wonderful morning.  Right off the bat, I saw a group of people sitting on the outdoor stage in what I thought was a yoga pose.  I came around the bend to find some flyers for Falun Dafa, a Chinese meditative practice, similar to yoga.  I haven’t looked into yet but the flier looks promising. 

I continued on and crossed paths with many people doing wide variety of activities.  From fellow runners and walkers to fisherman, photographers, and families teaching little ones how to ride a bike. Everyone was out and enjoying the cool breezes and warm penetrating sunlight.  The path was fairly crowded and at times I felt as if I was navigating through a crowded race. 

I mainly focused the run on photographs today.  The run itself was slow and steady with punctuated impromptu stops for photos.  When I wasn’t capturing the souls of others in digital format, I simply enjoyed the rhythm of running.  Feeling the sun’s radiation penetrate my being, and listening to the sounds of nature.  It was quite meditative in itself.  Towards the last mile or so, I did notice some slight discomfort in my left knee. The same place it’s bothered me in the last two races. I need to spend more time with the foam roller and stretching. 

Now for the photos.  I’ve begun using my Smugmug account again and have all the photos from today at A Near Perfect Run, if you’d like to see them all.  Feel free to check out my other photos.  I haven’t been using Smugmug in awhile so there isn’t anything recent other than todays.  Enjoy!

View from the boat house.

Looking out from the dike.

Fall trees

A quiet break in the crowd.

A new endevor?

Practicing Falun Dafa.  I thought this was yoga at first.

Fall leaves.

Feet don't fail me now.

Why wouldn't I stop for views like this?

Fall Fishin'

Runners World "Rave Run" contender?

Doesn't look much different than before I ran.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

A Fond Farewell.

You've been my trusty friend and faithful companion for nearly two years.  We've been through tough, happy, lonely, excited, and painful times, but alas, I must say good bye for now.  You've served me well, never failing to capture an hour, a minute, or even a second as required.  When needed you've been there with memory at hand.  For this, I thank you, but it's time to move on, at least for now.  Our paths are diverging and it's time to cut the cord and proceed ahead alone.  You will not be forgotten, and when the time comes and I need our service again, I'm sure you'll be there with all your might.  But for now….Adieu

IMG_7570Now my faithful readers may be wondering "what in the world is he talking about?"  Well, I'm moving into a new phase with my running.  I'm putting down the watch.  No more tracking my pace or times on runs.  I have no planned race goals and therefore no need to worry about how fast or slow I am running.  I will continue to track my mileage and other metrics, but time is not an important component for what I’m wanting.  The quality of the experience itself is what I'm seeking. 
This years race goals are done.  I've completed what I wanted to and have begun to move towards my 2012 running goals.  I'm still planning things out, but not requiring a watch is most definitely a big part in what I plan for 2012.  I’m probably going to run a Turkey Trot this Thanksgiving, but other than that, I’m looking towards the future.
More to come soon...

P.S.  I'm not sure what's up with pictures having a white bar at the bottom.  I'm using Windows Live Writer to make posts.  I might try reinstalling it when I get around to it.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Army Ten Miler Race Report

Ah, the Army Ten Miler (ATM), you broke me down last year, but this year I kicked your butt!

Packet Pickup and Race Morning

IMG_7500First we had Paige’s second soccer game Saturday morning.  She’s in first grade and the program she’s playing through had issues getting started so she’d had a total of two practices and one previous game (which the won).  Today didn’t fare so well.  They played a stronger team, and they just didn’t play as hard, especially Paige.  She was off in Lala land a lot.  Oh well, she’s only 6.  After the game we drove down to DC for race packet pickup.

Packet pickup went quick and we were able to register Paige for the kids 100m race.  She was so excited.  From there we hit the expo, didn’t find much.  I wasn’t looking for anything and Jen found a few items.  The Women’s Running booth peaked her interest and she started looking at their Arizona HM next fall to run with my sister that lives in Phoenix.  They’ve both soft committed to run it together now!  Awesomeness.   But I digress. We left the expo, and outside there were some Army booths with guns and vehicles, even a Blackhawk helicopter that the kids were able to hop in.  They loved it.

We headed back towards Baltimore and stopped at an Olive Garden for dinner. This is becoming the traditional pre-race meal for us.  I’ve started having allergies, so was fairly sneezy and feeling crappy.  Yeah, that appears to be tradition now as well, me feeling crappy the night before a race.  Yuk!

We awoke at 4:45 yesterday morning for the race.  About a 45 minute drive to the metro, with a coffee and donut stop, and we missed the first train by about 3 minutes.  After about 15 minutes of waiting, we got another and quickly found out we’d need to change trains twice due to track maintenance.  Nowhere did we read anything about stations being closed.  Stupid MTA!

Finally, we made it to the Pentagon stop, yeah, it was crowded as heck.  It took awhile to get out of the metro station and from there, the organizational mass confusion kicked into high gear.  We couldn’t make heads or tails of where to go.  Everything was changed from last year, and we needed to hit the bathroom.  Everyone was standing around, confused, and not sure where to go.  Finally, we figured out that it was the racers checkpoint and I said my goodbyes to head on down.  By this time, it was about 20 minutes before my wave was to start.  I hit the “Don’s Johns” line and had to wait about 10 minutes.  There was no toilet paper (Thankfully I’m a guy!) and the seat was a gross mess.  Yuk!  From there, I headed towards the starting line.

The Race

Last year’s race was well organized, Each wave was corralled behind a loop of colored balloons, We were able to hear the National Anthem, and each wave went off without a hitch.  Not so this year.  I got in line where my color was (the back) and everyone was just walking.  It was about a 15 minute nonstop walk to the starting line. There wasn’t any distinction between waves, or at least none I could tell.  Just one massively large 30K sea of people slowly making their way to the starting line. 

Miles 1-3

IMG_20111009_082631Finally, I crossed and the race began.  With so many people, it was impossible to run at a specific pace, let alone do run/walks.  I was stuck at the mercy of the crowd.  No big deal, it was VERY slow for the first half mile or so.  There must have been a ton of people that either forgot to pee or do to the confusion, just didn’t have time.  I came across this site about 3 minutes into the run.  When you gotta go, you gotta go!  I didn’t suffer such fate!  Mile was close to the Lincoln Memorial. I tried to get some photos, but they didn’t turn out too well.  I did get the Washington Monument. Not bad of a pic either.   I was having fun. I was trying to maintain a lose 12 min/mile pace, but mainly I was enjoying the crowd, the sights, the other runners, just all of it. 


IMG_20111009_092631Miles 4-5

This section of the race was along the water, near the infamous Watergate and the Kennedy Center.  A nice section to run on Somewhere during mile 5 I noticed some pain in my left knee, not as sharp as the HM two weeks ago, but enough for me to be worried. I slowed it down some more, took some painkillers, and applied some Biofreeze. 

Miles 6-7

Although I was going slower and worried about the knee, I loved this section of the race.  It was along the mall near where I used to work.  The crowd was huge, and the course double backed so we could see the runners ahead, then behind us.  My leg continued to have the slight pain.  It wasn’t noticeable at the beginning of a running interval but was by the end.  I was playing it safe, no rough surfaces or sharp turns, just slow and steady. 

Mile 8-9

This section took us back over the bridge towards the Pentagon.  Most people consider this section the worst of the race.  Not much good scenery, and running over a dull bridge.  I personally like it.  My knee cleared up.  No more pain, and I slowly started speeding back up towards my 12 min/mile pace.  There was a possibility that I could still make it under 2 hours, but I needed to make up some ground.  I cautiously started increasing the running ratio. It seemed that 75% of the runners near me were walking. I did a lot of passing through here.

Mile 10 and a long finishers shoot

When I hit the 9 mile mark, I calculated I’d need a sub 10 min/mile to make the 2 hour goal.  Nothing doing.  I wasn’t about to injure myself and run the risk of not finishing or worse, cause long term damage.  I just kept it steady.  At the last turn, there was about 200 yards left and I started kicking.  The last 50 yards, I was going full speed and crossed the line with a 2:01:55.  Much better than last years race, but nearly 45 sec/mile slower than two weeks ago.  I was done, yet we had to walk about 10 minutes before we could get out of the shoot.  No water was provided to us, although later I saw a ton of empty water there.  Thankfully Jen and the kids were at the exit where I got my finishers coin and some Gatorade Jen got for me.  I was feeling great actually.  Only during the sprint at the end did I really push myself.  Otherwise I was following Mr. Bingham's advice about getting your money’s worth.  It was a great way to run the race. 

Youth Run

This was a HUGE fiasco.  It started nearly 30 minutes late. We had to walk about 15 minutes to the start and were sandwiched in the finishers shoot.  There was no way the parents could get out.  We were told to put the kids up front and we were to run behind them.  An industrious guy was able to break the zip tie and some parents got out, Jen included.  I stayed behind. We only registered Paige, but there were a bunch of other kids without bibs, and Connor really wanted to go with his Sissy, so we let him.  When the gun went off, Paige ran with Connor hand in hand, I was behind.  I told her she didn’t need to stay with him and she took off like a bolt of lightning.  I finished with Connor, and both of them got medals.  Now these were no kiddie medals.  They were actual metal, better than some I’ve received for real races!  


With the race over, we had a fiasco meeting up with my friends that live by there because the metro bus station at the Pentagon was closed.  Again, nowhere was this stated!  Finally one of them picked us up and we hit some yummy Mexican food for lunch. 

Overall, the race was great.  Yeah, I had some pain in my knee, and I’m going to need to address that now, but it didn’t last the entire race. The race was far less organized than last year, and from the complaints on Facebook, I’m hoping they change it back. 

Now I’m off to enjoy Columbus Day sitting on the patio in 70 degree weather!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Army 10 Miler Is In The Bag.

The race is done. Some pre  post-race report thoughts….

The organization was horrible.

The course was slightly better than last year.

Some pain in the left knee, again.

I finished strong.

I ran fairly easy.

The kids race was a mess.

Lunch afterward was awesome. 

Stay posted for a full race report, probably tomorrow morning.

Saturday, October 8, 2011


4:45 alarm, have to be at the metro at 6:00, race at 8:15, Paige's race at 11:00, Lunch with friends about 12:00, Back to the metro about 1:30, to the car about 2:30, home to rest 3:30. At some point after that will be dinner and family movie night to finish out the last Star Wars movie. Whew! I'm worn out just typing it all!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011


Hooah!!  That's the Army's battle cry.  This weekend is the Army 10 Miler and I've got mixed emotions about it.  On the one hand, I'm excited to do it again.  The race is huge, well organized, and has several personally significant features. 

1.  It's the Army, and I work for them.
2.  It takes place in DC along the National Mall, where I used to work.
3.  Last year, I had a near DNF when I pulled a hamstring.

Up until last week, I haven't had this race on my mind.  I had the Hidden Treasures Half Marathon to worry about. What's 10 little ole miles when I'm doing 13.1 two weeks before hand? 

Well since the HM is over, the ATM is the next big thing.  My last post I mentioned I may have done something to me knee/ITB during the HM and was taking time to recoup.  I decided to just rest the entire two weeks so I've not logged a single mile since then.  I've done the foam roller a few times, and plan to use it more over the next few days and hopefully things will go well on Sunday.

That brings me to the mixed emotions.  I'm slightly worried that I'll have a repeat of last year.  I'm hyper sensitive to sensations around the knee area.  Could it happen?  Yeah, there's a distinct possibility that something will go wrong, but I've only had two instance of pain and I'm putting in the rest so I'm hedging against it. 

With that said, my goal is to finish strong and beat my time last year, which isn't hard to do.  No pushing it, no trying to hit that magic time.  I'm going to relax, enjoy the scenery, the crowd, and have fun with it.  To paraphrase John "The Penguin" Bingham; you spend a lot of money for the privilege of running a race, why not slow down and get your money's worth?